It is so, so, so important to have GREAT images of yourself when creating a personal brand.
So, whether you’re a coach, an artist, a musician, or a consultant, you want to make sure that the images you use of yourself really rock it out, letting people get a clear idea of WHO you are and what you’re all about.
The best way to do this, of course, is to hire a photographer who specializes in capturing the HEART of who you are and what your business is all about. You want to go beyond just some basic head shots here!
But, I know that hiring someone may not be in the budget when you’re just starting out. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to settle for digging through your Facebook pictures to find a picture of yourself to use that isn’t too horrible!
Having a great set of images to use across all of your social media and throughout your website is still just as important.
I actually took all of the pictures throughout this website myself. With my iPhone! I have about 20 of them that are ready to go for me to use whenever I need an image for a blog post, on social media, or for whatever.
Here are some tips for you, if you want to take your own branding photos for your business:
First off, make sure that you are SUPER clear about your brand.
You don’t want to create random images. You want your photos to communicate directly to your target audience and connect with them. So, before you even get started, make sure you do the work to establish your brand voice and you know the exact look that you’re after.
You can grab my free Brand Plan workbook to help you with this! This is an important step that you for sure don’t want to skip.
Once you’re clear about your BRAND VOICE, you have to decide what type of location you want for your images. Sitting at your desk? Walking outside on your favorite trail? In a downtown urban setting? Make sure that it makes sense for your brand, your dream clients and what you’re business is all about.
For my images, I wanted a blank canvas so I could have images that I could remove the background and use against my bright brand colors. I just used a white wall in a room of my house that had good lighting.
One thing to consider with location is making sure you are somewhere that you’ll feel comfortable. You’re going to want to completely relax, so if taking selfies out in public makes you uncomfortable, that’s something to consider.
If you’re going to shoot outdoors, try to shoot in the early morning or early evening before the sun goes down. This is what’s known as the golden hour. The light will be soft and is very flattering for portraits. If you just can’t do that, try to use the trees as a canopy overhead to diffuse the light a little bit. But, big bright sunshine may be perfect for your brand, so do what feels right here.
If you’re shooting indoors, make sure you have good light. You don’t want it to be too dark or have to use the flash. Natural light is always going to give you the best results unless you’re a pro at studio lighting. Open up the curtains and let the light in! Pay attention to different times of the day when the light is better for where you want to set up. You may have to experiment a little to get this just right.
This is the biggest thing I tell my photography clients: make sure you are comfortable in what you wear! If you don’t feel good, it will show in your photos. You want to forget about what you’re wearing and just let your light shine through!
So, pick clothes, accessories, hair and makeup that FOR SURE communicates your brand, but that also feels GOOD and makes you feel amazing.
Use a tripod! Don’t have your brand images be arm length selfies! This doesn’t mean that you have to go out and buy a fancy new piece of equipment. For my photos, I had a box stacked up on a chair with a few books and something behind my phone to keep it propped up.
Getting it at the right height was what was important and the right distance from myself. Again, you’ll have to experiment and see what works and is best capturing what you want.
Usually straight on, or positioning the camera a little higher than eye level is going to be best. Looking DOWN into the camera doesn’t do most of us any favors – double chin anyone? But don’t look up too much, that can just be cheesy. You want your images to feel natural.
Also, use a timer! This allows you to get in position before the image is taken.
I have an app on my phone that I like called shake camera. I’m pretty sure it was free (or cheap). I like that it will take multiple photos at once so I don’t have to move back and forth a million times. And it shows me a countdown when I’m shooting, which helps me to get in position.
There are A TON of these types of apps! Find one that you like and stick with it. Or, if you’re using an actual camera, it will probably have this function – read your manual!
Change It Up
The best thing about using a timer that takes multiple images is that you can change it up quickly. What I’ll do is do a couple of sets of 10 images, then look through them and see what’s working and what I like.
Don’t be afraid to act goofy, move around, pout, smile, jump, laugh, talk to the camera, sing, try different angles, sit down, stand up, get closer, change your clothes, etc. If you are clear about your brand you’ll know the type of images that are working and you can make changes as you go.
Take LOTS Of photos!
Seriously. There will be a ton of bad photos. Just delete them. Hold out for good ones that you love and that communication your brand. I think I took at least 600 images when I did my own photo shoot. I deleted a ton as I went and then kept about 75 that I downloaded to my computer to go through and pair down.
Don’t be afraid of bad photos, either. They are going to happen. No one needs to see them. Get over yourself and work through it! You’ll get some good ones in there if you take enough, I promise!
Take Your Time
Don’t think you’re just going to take a couple of snaps and be done with it. When I’m doing a pro photo shoot with a client, we do a ton of prep work and then spend AT LEAST 90 minutes shooting.
Give yourself the same luxury. Your brand photos matter, so don’t rush through it. Be patient and give yourself the time you need to do a great job! You’ll be glad you did. I took my photos over a year ago and I still use them all the time.
Edit Your Images
I turned all of my photos into black and white. That’s what I wanted for my brand. With editing, you can also clean up blemishes, soften or sharpen, add flattering filters, etc. I use lightroom and photoshop to do all of my editing, but there are plenty of free programs out there. Picmonkey is one that’s free and really easy to use.
Remember that these are YOUR images so you can manipulate them however you want to create your brand!
You don’t have to look straight into the camera AND you don’t always have to smile. Look around, side to side, up and down. Try getting some photos from behind, or of you looking off into the distance. If you’re outside, change your angle to get a different position from the sun.
There is this idea that we all have have a “good side” to photograph. I actually think that it’s true. I know that if I hold my head a certain way, with my chin tilted just so, it is likely going to be a good shot. This comes form taking LOTS of self portraits. Get to know yourself on camera and your images will turn out better.
Even if you are shooting against a blank wall, paying attention to your background is important! Is there an electrical outlet right behind you? Does the door jam peek into the frame a little bit. You can always photoshop those things about, but if you don’t have those skills, make sure that you deal with background issues while you shoot.
If you’re out and about shooting, make sure you don’t have people walking behind you, or that there isn’t a big tree perfectly positioned behind you so that it looks like it’s growing out of your head.
If you’re taking photos at your desk, in your office, really look at the pictures as you’re taking them. Is there a trash can that you could move out of the frame or too much clutter around?
Remember that these are photos of YOU so you don’t want stuff in the background stealing your thunder! 😉
Lastly, Be yourself
Relax and have fun while taking your pictures. Be yourself! I am loud and goofy and have a GINORMOUS laugh. I wanted to make sure I got photos of that. So I fake laughed my ass off until it started to feel natural and authentic.
People want to connect with YOU, so be yourself! That’s what is at the heart of a good brand.
There are a TON of other things you could consider when taking photos of yourself for your business, but these tips should help get you started. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.
And, if you find that you just can’t quite capture what you want for you brand, then for sure, hire someone to help you! A professional photographer can really bring your brand to life and is going to be money well spent!